Government Whistleblowers

A former White House security officer has denied he was under pressure from Trump administration superiors to approve security clearances, according to reports of his interview with Congressional investigators earlier this week.

His comments are a response to charges levied by Tricia Newbold, a White House staffer who in March reported security clearance problems to Congress. White House officials overruled security staff and granted clearances to 25 employees, she told the House committee.     

 From The New York Times:

Carl Kline, the former director of the White House’s Personnel Security Office, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee this week that he had overruled the recommendations of his staff and approved security clearances for White House officials on his own authority, and denied that President Trump or anyone else had directed him to do it.
Continue Reading

For International Women’s Day, a few whistleblowers.

From the NWC:

Dr. Tommie (“Toni”) G. Savage

Savage had a distinguished 20 year career in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’, until she blew the whistle on the  fraud she discovered.

Jane Turner

Turner successful fought her removal and won a historic victory for all FBI whistleblowers before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.  She challenged her retaliation in federal court, and won a unanimous jury verdict in her favor, obtaining the largest compensatory damage award permitted under the law for federal employees.  Jane also exposed criminal theft of property at the 9/11 crime scene by a handful of FBI agents.  She was harshly retaliated against for reporting these violations to the DOJ Inspector General.  After a ten-year battle, she prevailed, becoming only one of a small handful of FBI agents to win her cases under the FBI whistleblower Protection Act.


Continue Reading

A round-up of recent whistleblower news.

  • The Conversation: #MeToo whistleblowing is upending century-old legal precedent demanding loyalty to the boss

#MeToo was, of course, about sexual harassment and assault. But it was also a form of mass whistleblowing. The movement signaled victims’ willingness – at an unprecedented scale – to defy promises of secrecy to their employers in service of a larger truth by revealing their experiences of workplace harassment.

In the March 5 piece, Elizabeth C. Tippett, an associate professor at the University of Oregon law school, explains what her research into loyalty revealed about whistleblowing.  She said the courts and lawmakers prioritized an employer’s right to loyalty in the past. That is changing.

As legal scholar Richard Moberly documented, the U.S. Supreme Court has been remarkably consistent in recent decades in protecting private-sector whistleblowers. Congress has moved in the same direction, tacking on whistleblower protections in major federal legislation, including the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform statute.

Indeed, the righteousness of whistleblowers has become a rare matter of bipartisan consensus. In 2017, every lawmaker in both the House and Senate voted in favor of a law expanding whistleblower protections for federal employees.


Continue Reading

All three position on the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) are now empty with the expiration of the only member’s appointment. In February, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved two of President Trump’s MSPB nominees, but the full Senate has not considered them yet.

A letter from groups representing federal workers, as well as whistleblower and taxpayer advocates, raised concerns about the future of the board.

The MSPB is a three-person board which hears appeals of lower level personnel decisions. The Board hears whistleblower cases and is the backstop for maintaining a non-partisan, professional civil service as the sole enforcement body on many cases. It has not had a quorum since just before President Trump took office. The MSPB needs a quorum of two to act. The term of the single sitting member, Mark A. Robbins, ended on February 28.

A Washington Post column about unfilled political position mentions the MSPB.

The MSPB has a vital mission, namely, to oversee federal hiring, employee management and firing, as well as to provide protection against whistleblower retaliation in government. Perhaps the most invisible force at work at the MSPB is upholding the constitutional legal principles of due process and checks and balances that apply across all three branches of government. That makes the work of the MSPB crucial to making democracy work across the U.S. government. Davidson. 
Continue Reading

National Whistleblower Center (NWC), as a member organization of the Workplace Sexual Harassment Coalition, has signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to support the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act (H.R. 4924) which passed in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support last month. The Act, which seeks to improve workplace protections for Congressional staff, has gained broad public support due to the #MeToo movement.

Continue Reading

In a memo dated January 29, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed Department of Justice (DOJ) heads to not communicate with “senators, representatives, congressional committees, or congressional staff” without first consulting with the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA).

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a long-time advocate for whistleblower rights, has expressed his concern regarding the legality of the Attorney Sessions’ memo. In his response letter, Grassley writes that the memo “does not appear to comply with existing law.” In particular, it infringes on the rights of DOJ employees to “make protected disclosures directly to Congress.”


Continue Reading

Renowned Oversight Expert Criticizes Interference with Russia InvestigationIn an op-ed for The Hill, former National Whistleblower Center (NWC) executive director and widely regarded oversight expert Kris Kolesnik takes members of Congress to task for blurring the lines between campaigning and governing.

Kolesnik, also a former high-level staffer for Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), states, “people who come to Congress need to understand that, once you get here, you’re obliged to govern. The campaigning is over.” Given Kolesnik’s record, when he speaks on important oversight issues, all should listen.


Continue Reading

The National Whistleblower Center, as a member of the Workplace Sexual Harassment Coalition, has signed a letter to the House of Representatives with a set of recommendations for the bipartisan bill, the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act. In the midst of the #MeToo movement, the bill aims to improve the workplace environment for Congressional staff.

Continue Reading

All around the nation, hundreds of thousands of federal employees did not report to work today because of the federal government shutdown. Military families will not receive death benefits, active duty soldiers will not be paid, and the aggregate effects of a shutdown are expected to cost the American economy about $1 billion per day.

Continue Reading